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The Latest RIAA-sco

I saw this on Thoughts the other day, and I just needed to rant a bit. Before I get into it though, there are a couple of things I need to say so that **I** don’t get targeted: I:

  • Do NOT share music or movies
  • Always buy legal copies of all music and movies
  • Own a Apple 5G iPod Video and make frequent use of it AND the iTunes Music Store (I received a $25 iTunes Gift Card over the Christmas Holiday)
  • Fully Believe in Fair Use of my digital media

If that last piece gets me into trouble, then so be it. I am not doing anything that common sense would tell me is illegal, immoral, or in any way dishonest. However, I fully believe I should be permitted to use the copy of [insert media type here] I have purchased in a way that satisfies the legal methods I have to play it.  That includes:

  • Direct play of that media using the replay method normally ascribed to that media (for example, using a CD Player to play a CD)
  • Playing the media using alternate, legal methods of translation. This includes
    • Using, for example, a DVD Player to play a CD, playing a DVD on a computer instead of a DVD player, etc.
    • Wired or wireless transmission of audio using my home computer network or home stereo system using the original media
    • Wired or wireless transmission of audio using my home computer network or home stereo system using backup media created via Fair Use
  • Playing the original or Fair Use backup media on a computer or other digital music player (like my iPod)

Again, if this gets me in trouble, so be it. I’m ready for my day in court. So with that said, I saw (again, on Thoughts) a rant posted by Ed Hansberry. It appears that the RIAA is suing a Scottsdale, AZ man for transferring legally purchased CD’s to his computer. According to the RIAA’s lawyer for this case, Ira Schwartz, while the music was legally purchased, the digital versions are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings."

This next quote is what really set me off… At a trial in Minnesota, Sony BMG’s Chief of Litigation, Jennifer Pariser testified that, "when an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song… Copying a song you bought is "a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy,’ "

When I first read that, I had to reread it a couple of times. It just doesn’t make any sense.   If Sony wants to officially challenge Fair Use, then let’s get it on!  File the right papers in the right courts and have the lawyers duke it out. If they think that Apple, Microsoft, Creative, et all digital music player manufacturers are going to sit around and let them destroy a multi-billion dollar money maker, then the RIAA is seriously mistaken.

What I think bothers me more than anything else is that the business model that these activities supports is SO outdated that it doesn’t make any sense. Before CD writers and MP3 players were prevalent, people were dubbing CD’s to cassettes all the time.  I can’t tell you how many tapes I made during my high school and college days so that I could listen to music while I drove or was away from my stereo.  The only thing that is different here is that electronic files (be they MP3’s or any other file format) can be easily shared, and on a much larger scale than copying a cassette via the Sony branded high-speed dubbing cassette deck I used to have.

That’s where the RIAA’s pucker-factor hit double digits. They are technically labeling everyone who rips their CD’s to MP3’s (or other file format) a thief because they want everyone to purchase a separate copy for each way they want to use that media. Again, this is largely due to the potential for file sharing, and not because you can make a copy of that media. We’ve had the ability to make copies of music and movies at the consumer level for decades. The RIAA is trying to enforce single purchase, single method use. I’m not entirely certain the B2C market will support that business model.

While further clarification of this particular issue indicates that any current lawsuit does NOT involve ripping copies for your personal use, but again; file sharing, the comment from Jennifer Pariser really bothers me.  According to her statements, she’d sue the world to insure that the RIAA gets paid for every copy made, Fair Use or not. The original news article published by The Washington Post didn’t get it quite right, either. However, I don’t care.  I still have a serious problem with Pariser’s statements.

Personally, I don’t purchase music by any artist on any Sony label any longer.  Those that I have, I listen to, but I always check the label before purchase. The whole Sony Rootkit issue really turned me off to the label, and the RIAA’s continued activities make me nervous. So much so, that I don’t purchase their music products, and got rid of any "questionably obtained" music long ago.

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